Writing About Place

Free write for 5 minutes on each of the following approaches to your topic. Describe it, compare it, associate it, analyze it, apply it, argue for or against it.

  1. Describe place: a conference center and a hotel, any hotel, anywhere. Large meeting room, a ballroom, anything from a major hotel with chandeliers and partitions to the porch in Jamaica shaded and surrounded by green trees.
  1. Anything from breakout rooms off an outside patio to sterile hotel rooms. Almost always chairs in conference rooms. A YMCA camp or in New York With Jean Houston. Places where people meet to do conference business or socialize—a hotel suite—and a huge Club Med lobby in Switzerland—an elegant hotel lobby in San Francisco and tables beside the resort swimming pool.
  1. All are places to meet friends and be embraced and stimulated or to present ideas to others and each conforms to the place at a geographical location. All are set in different ways. I like circles best for small meetings and many rows for large ones and large open space for a labyrinth and for things like Fanita English teaching the chaotic meditation. Restaurants where groups of people sit together and share ideas. Beaches where we talk while standing in the ocean and jumping waves. Chairs under trees and under hotel staircases.

These places make me think of people I have come to care about sharing growth together and learning to help others to grow and change as well. Love and acceptance, mentoring, challenges, and most of all belonging spaces to hold and be held and that challenged and shaped my growth. Places for wonder and places for new radical ideas to flourish, and places to be admired. Camelot: a community that came alive once or twice a year—sometimes more often, held together by invisible bonds of caring and similar work and goals.

  1. How they’re created. They’re created by a promise that things could be different, that things could be good, that people could grow and thrive and that we could change things and help. They’re created by sharing and cooperation and marred by competition and jockeying for position. They’re held together by shared ethical principles and a desire to ease pain in the world. They started in ancient history and are perpetuated and changed by dedicated professionals. It is sort of like the history section of a PhD dissertation. It’s a tradition that we build on and grow and change. The history goes back to telling stories around the campfire and planning the next tribal activity and continuing to move and grow from there.
  1. What I can do in that place: I can be authentically me with others who are equally real and searching. In those places I am living with other unboxed people or unboxing people who can see beyond the general cultural hypnotic system of living in boxes. I can grow and blossom and be encouraged to do more. I can be held when I am tired and provide what I know to others. I can have friends and be a friend. I can nurture and be nurtured. I can play with nonjudgmental playmates and helped to earn a good living besides. Those places are a Crucible of life.
  2. Argue for it. Now that I think about it, I realize how lucky I am to have been exposed to and allowed to co-create this incredible crucible of connection, friendship and learning. I don’t think I am unique. Many others were nurtured as well and discovered each other. It’s harder to do these life affirming activities without a place to hold and share them. I am fortunate; blessed to have found and inhabited such a community and sometimes feel bereft without it.

Consider how that place affected you, how it shaped your character and the story you’re telling. The setting is important to my memoir because…

These places shocked me out of the complacency of my built-in limitations and offered new models and nurturing challenges and opportunities and support to grow into them.

  • From my first experience of being treated as a “person in my own right” rather than my husband’s wife.
  • Then realizing I could understand, learn, apply, and share what I was learning.
  • Fanita modeled strokes.
  • Morry Haimowitz challenged my self-perception of being clumsy.
  • Dave Kupfer’s brilliant first marathon.
  • Fantastic exposure to Natalie Haimowitz and Fanita English who both became my friends and mentors.
  • Then moving to Denver to establish a community here in Colorado with Warden and Carolyn Rimel.
  • Teaching learning getting supervision and learning because I was fascinated.
  • And studying with Mary and Bob Goulding
  • Skinny dipping for the first time in Bob and Mary’s pool at Mt. Madonna.
  • Jerry and Terry White teaching fast script analysis and so much more
  • Meeting Jackie Schiff and seeking refuge at Cathexis Institute in Virginia and inviting them to stop in Colorado at our house.
  • Natalie encouraging me to take my exam.
  • Passing TA certification exams in a limited way the first time and fully passing eight months later while I was teaching oh 101 and being accepted into the professional community.
  • The excitement of original ideas. So much so fast.
  • The week at Mt. Madonna without knowing I was being evaluated.
  • Meeting Nancy Porter-Steele and Curtis Steele at Mt. Madonna who became lifelong friends .
  • Mary Goulding told me to get a masters degree and where to go and whom to meet. And so I did in 1974.
  • So much training and learning and being encouraged to grow outside the community—My first Jean Houston week in 1975, and dancing all night.
  • Feminism and Hogie Wyckoff and the women’s caucus.
  • Ms Magazine and our consciousness raising group in the Denver area.
  • Barry inviting me to write my first professional article for publication.
  • Being a part of the incredibly mushrooming human potential movement.

All these things within about five years. I certainly wouldn’t be me without this incredible foundation. An explosion of opportunity and I kept saying yes!

There were meetings in person and more and more opportunities to branch out and grow in different directions. The Crucible was where the seed was planted and nurtured and grew and flowered.

Explosive growth when we accounted Money and You in 1979 through Ed Gurowitz who is still a friend and got immersed in an entirely different community. A guru community didn’t work as well but expanded boundaries like crazy and entertained intertwined with TA through Jerry and Terry and Nancy and Curtis. Holistic health network in Denver. Even more opportunities and connections with the Geneva group and Win-Win forum.

A whole new chapter of spiritual awakening with Jean Houston, Larry Leshan, Howard Bad Hand, and in the background the TA community and ISSIP: International Society For The Study Of Innovative Psychotherapy. Still holding and nurturing from 1981 to 1985 and beyond. Learning from Muriel James at ISSIP how to write a book proposal and going to the Feminist Conference and writing and expanding a book chapter to a monograph and finally to a book proposal in 1987. Incredible richness.